Anyone running Bart Mk1s without the active preamp?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. I have a Cort A4 that came with Bartolini Mk1 pickups and an active preamp (make of preamp unknown, I'm presuming it is also a licensed Bartolini unit, like the pickups are).

    I've read numerous times in numerous places that these Bart Mk1s are actually passive pickups. That said ....

    I'm wondering if anyone has tried them as passive pickups without using an active preamp.

    I have a few oddball ideas that I want to try out with this bass. I've had it since I bought it new in 2000, and it sounds really nice. I've been thinking about changing the output jack to a TRS ("stereo") jack and running 9vdc into it on the "ring" conductor so I don't need to rely on a battery to power the preamp. It isn't hard to make a little box to do that.

    I've also been thinking about putting a preamp bypass push-push switchpot on it. This Cort was made prior to the modern Artisans that come standard with the EQ bypass toggle which could be repurposed to bypass the active preamp. So I'd need to add a switchpot (I don't want to drill any more holes in it).

    So, do these Bart Mk1s sound any good when run passive without the preamp? What of output level, is it high, low?

    If it ends up needing a passive tone control (when using the pickups without the active preamp) that isn't hard to do either .. maybe use a concentric pot for a single tone rolloff doubled up with maybe the active treble knob. A passive volume control could be stacked on the active volume control as well if when bypassing the preamp the volume knob doesn't work.

    I've looked at the control cavity and it is a total trainwreck in there. It's obvious that the preamp and pots were prewired before they were installed and just stuffed in the cavity, neatness be damned. There are a LOT of wires in there, and I have not taken the time to map it all out. I've built eleven guitars/basses so far, but this one is something I have not wanted to mess with if I didn't have to. It sounds REALLY GOOD so I've had no reason to goof with the innards.





  2. I've done it. They sound great in a vvt configuration, but they are kind of quiet. You will need to run the input gain on your amp higher.
  3. Cool. I've got a few gain boost pedals and mic preamps to lift the signal. They should do the trick.
  4. tkonbass

    tkonbass I'm just one of the out-of-focus guys.

    Mar 11, 2012
    St. Paul, MN
    I recently picked up a 2010 Lakland 55-01 here on TB. The previous owner had removed the MK1 preamp because he said he preferred passive basses and actually felt this bass sounded better passive than with the MK1 pre. I tried it out passive when I got it from him and agree it did sound pretty good through my MB500 & 210RBH setup. The output level was fine maybe a little on the low side but certainly usable. My preference is active and I received the original MK1 pre with the bass so I went ahead and re-installed it to hear it for myself. Tried it out for about a day and took it back out and ordered an Audere Classic 4 band pre. I'm currently in the process of re-shielding all of the cavities to install it. I did not like the sound of the MK1 pre with the MK1 pups. Since I had heard the pickups passive I contribute the unfavorable sound to the pre. We'll see when I have the Audere finalized.
  5. spcmstrbtasp


    Oct 19, 2006
    Athens, GA
    I have an '03 Lakland 5501 with the MK-1 but with the NTMB preamp. I find that I use it in passive mode more than with the active tone controls engaged (volume knob pulled out). I think this is the same pickup the OP is talking about.

    It is quieter than some other basses, but not unusable. I do wish I had a passive tone control so I could turn down the treble response when needed, but I think it sounds good wide open with the NTMB bypassed for most applications I use it for. I keep it strung with Lakland flats and I think it sounds really good.
  6. Thanks to both of you, that is encouraging information. My passive J is going down for a little while as I do some routing and pickup installation work to it. I'll be relying on the Cort a lot during that time to have something to play. But after the J is back up to speed I am aiming at doing a bit of work to the Cort, perhaps this summer. I would like to have the frets replaced with stainless steel frets, and while it's down I'd like to do a passive bypass modification to it so that I may try some active preamps of various types by mounting them outboard at first, then mounting whichever one I settle on inboard after the testing is completed. If I like the passive sound well enough, who knows, it may stay passive or I may decide to install an active bypass in a permanent sense so that I have more freedom of choice.

    I just wanted to make sure that the passive mode wasn't some sort of "never ever do this" thing. I am now convinced that it is not.

    Thanks again.

    Oh, and btw, anyone know of any examples of what these Mk1s sound like in passive mode? You Tube, MP3, other?
  7. Ive actually mulled over this a number of times... I think the pickups are good...for what they are..all these pickup swap get a little silly considering these basses get dumped into amps and cabs that change the sound again...anyho.. I swapped the pre for a Delano and really dig it..but I too like the passive option far as passive finding a solution for the extra holes turned me off but the active/passive bypass on the Delano works tone control...Last Ive actually ordered an Audere classic all the way to pressing for payment but backed out a few times.. Im curious to hear the feedback on that.

    Ill get some passive/active clips of the Delano up for you this weekend..I dont have any with the original pre sorry..
  8. Thanks, that will be pretty cool.

    As far as the bass getting run through the amp and cab and changing it again, it's like mixing paint. You start with 3 colors (pickups, amp, cab) and when you mix them all together you end up with a specific hue or shade. If you change just one of the three components, when mixed with each other the resulting shade/hue will most definitely be different than it was before you changed one of them.

  9. RickyVT


    Aug 15, 2013
    I got the exact same bass except for an extra B-string, and was looking into overriding the preamp. How is this done both switchable or definitive...
  10. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    The pickups aren't bad at all. The preamp they match them with is horrible. I have not run mine passive though. I put in a US Bart preamp and it sounded great. Got caught up in upgrading and put in Nordie Big Splits. Didn't like them then put in US Bart MK5's. Better but still not what I want to hear so I'm in the process of putting back in the MK1's.
  11. ummies


    Dec 17, 2015
    Hey David,
    How did you do this? Do you have any diagrams?
    You reiterated the OP's 1st post and it really is a trainwreck in there. I don't want to mess with anything that would mess up the sound.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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